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Jliltd's Trucks

Discussion in 'General Truck Info' started by jliltd, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. jliltd

    jliltd Member

    You got that right. I am in it for the trucks themselves. The ones I've moved over the last year were for the love of the vehicles and the fun of letting my friends get in to them, all the while making me look like a genius big shot. I've washed my hands of selling any more as my time can be spent making money in more efficient ways.

    I do love our minis. We run 8 all day long working.

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2008
    Silverrubi likes this.
  2. JRinTX

    JRinTX Moderator


    I hope you do not mind, but I wanted to start a new thread in order to get more info on your trucks! You have several trucks that cover a range of possibilties for other truck owners. Maybe you could do a review of each truck, (similar to the Mitsubishi with the toolbox) with pics and specs.

    My particular interest is the one on the far right hand side, looks like a 1992 with the round headlights. How much lift? How is it lifted? What size/type of tires and wheels. I'm sure you have had a lot of experience with these trucks and a wide range of knowledge gained from your experience. You may get tired of answering all the questions I can think of...not to mention everyone else!...:D

    By the way, that is beautiful country! We just returned from a family vacation to the Grand Canyon. We went through Kingman, Az to visit a friend. This pic reminds me of the desert around Kingman. Quite a bit different from SE Texas!!

    Thanks again for the info and pics!
    Silverrubi likes this.
  3. jliltd

    jliltd Member

    You really know how to put a guy on the spot. First off, I don't pretend to be an expert on minitrucks. My experience is limited compared to some of the dealers and importers out there that see dozens of trucks a month. So take my comments with a grain of salt.


    That truck you ask about a 1994 Suzuki Carry with 12,000km on it. I don't mean to sound like "Debbie Downer" but the short answer to the lift and tires is, "Looks really cool, but shouldn't have done it". That photo was taken before we discovered how much harm a generic 3" lift kit can do to the front differential on a Carry, not to mention the alignment. It has been returned to stock configuration (after going through two different front differentials). The longer answer to the lift question would be to use a method that drops the differential(s) down to maintain close to factory angles on the drive line and axles. That's more engineering than the quickie lift kits on eBay provide. Looking at the offerings from XRoads and Ulmer Farm Service it appears these issues are moving toward being addressed but I have no experience with the improved kits. Another consideration when lifting these trucks is that you adversely affect the center of gravity and handling away from normal; especially when combined with non-highway use ATV tires. I went through enough agony on this 1994 to become happy to leave the suspension back to stock for a while longer. I do, however, have some 13" wheels with automotive tires on it.

    As you can sense, at this point I am not a proponent of aftermarket ATV tires on these trucks. However, of all the ATV type tires I like the ones in this photo the best, Carlisle All Trails (again, this is the same truck back when we lifted it and it was tearing itself apart as a result):


    These 6-Ply All Trails seem to offer the best flotation and aren't as "spongy" feeling as most other ATV tires. They will, however, produce about 5 times the dust on dirt roads over automotive style tires, all the while happily flinging small rocks and mud up at your elbow on the window sill. My absolute least favorite tires on these trucks so far are the Carlisle 489's. Might as well try to drive on marshmallows the way they handle and don't even try to talk to your passenger with the awful noise they make.

    I'll provide some less windy answers on the other trucks as time allows.
    Silverrubi likes this.
  4. Acerguy

    Acerguy Moderator Staff Member

    On the contrary, this is exactly the sort of information that's useful for this kind of Forum. Thanks!

    I might also point out that the All Trails are probably one of the few ATV-type tires that actually has a load rating great enough for a Kei truck. The 23x8x12 are rated to 1125lbs each and can be inflated to 22 psi. Compare that to the same size in a 489 which is only rated to 280bls at 7 psi. Even a 489 in 24x8x12 is rated to 455lbs which would seem to be just barely enough for Kei truck with a couple of passengers let alone a full payload.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2007
    Silverrubi likes this.
  5. xroadsimport

    xroadsimport Member

    That is a pretty good looking Suzuki. It was also a find with only 12,000 miles on it. To bad you went through so many differentials.

    When I first got into mini trucks I purchased some of the lift kits that were out at the time. They are pretty much what is sold by most I have seen still. To say the least I was not happy with how they worked. That is why we designed our own kits, tested, redesigned, tested, and then redesigned our kits. We wanted to eliminate any of the drive train, and handling problems. You may want to try one of our 2 1/4" lift kits. They let you run the 23" tires and be sure you won't have to change any differentials.

    The All-Trail is by far our best selling tire. Like you pointed out throwing small rocks and dust is the bigest complaint on it. The small grooves pick up rocks about that size and throw them. It is a good all around tire though. The more agresive tires with more space between the lugs do not throw the rocks like the All-Trails. However you have to deal with a rougher ride on hard surface. For every tire option there are benifits and drawbacks.

    We are developing stage 2 lift kits that will lift the trucks and take the angels back to close to factory. They will go higher than 3". We will also come out with something much better. I can't tell you exactly what it is but it is the ultimate answer for the front suspension and drive train.
    Silverrubi likes this.
  6. jliltd

    jliltd Member

    Sounds good. I knew it would be a matter of time until somebody licked the lifting issues. For the early dealers two years ago there was practically no stateside experience with these vehicles, whether official factory or modification guidance. A lot of fellows were on their own and the resulting trial and error method they used has resulted in a better understanding of the trucks.

    The odometer is 12,000km, not miles. It's like new inside and out.

    As amazing as it sounds, with a stock 1990 Suzuki I can install 23" All Trail tires (all 23X8.00-12 or that in fronts, 23x10.00-12 rears) on ITP rims without any lift or rubbing issues. Same can't be said for other makes. Here's a picture of our 1990 with that wheel/tire combo and no lift. This 1990 model is one of our all-around favorite trucks, albeit a bit cramped inside compared to later models. The early 660's have proven to be awesome trucks; for farm work I'd take a 1990 over a 2000 model (I've got two 2000 Mitsu's):


    (note the pile of 489's and other tires against the back wall)
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2007
    Rob88 and Silverrubi like this.
  7. jliltd

    jliltd Member

    Quick subjective summary


    Everybody always asks which model of minitruck is the best. That's very subjective and I too had those questions early on. I have discovered why there is no quick answer from most dealers. It's because each model has their own pros and cons and your mission profile should dictate model selection. Again this list is completely subjective and there is a good chance your experience may vary (plus I haven't had all year models to try). Here's a quick summary:

    Best Off-Road Ride: Subaru, but Honda is a close second, both are rear-engine models and independent suspension and weight distribution leads to smoothing out the bumps.

    Best On-Road Ride: 2000 or newer stretched-style Mitsubishi / Suzuki with lowered front air dams and air conditioners condensors. They have a low center of gravity and handle like a dream on pavement. I have *heard* that these models with their shift lock-outs "removed" cruise very fast, too. The same physical configuration that allows this is what takes away from their off-road clearance and ability to upsize tires easily.

    Smoothest Tranny Shifting: Mitsubishis. Of all ages and varieties. It's subtle but it's hard to miss a gear in a Mitsu. Very well designed. Honda is close and the Honda has the peculiarity of being an "all wheel drive" so it's always in 4WD (not like real 4WD selectable).

    Best Off-Road traction: Daihatsu Climber, with front and rear lockers. Amazing traction with good torque. Suzuki Carry with locker is a close second. With the light weight and flotation of these vehicles, 99% of the time lockers don't mean anything to us (even in the sand hills). We have no "rock" experience, though.

    Biggest cab: Subaru comes in first. Mitsubishi's second with Suzuki's and later Daihatsu's tieing for third. Hondas come in fourth and the tightest of the bunch is pre '91 Suzukis. If you're well over 6' tall and more than about 220 lbs Subaru is the only way to go.

    Most Customizeable: Suzuki's seem to have the best aftermarket accessory availability and are fairly accomodating. Daihatsu's are good too except the 90's model use the 110mm lug nut pattern limiting wheel selection. Mitsu's are fine too and often take spacers or shims on the front wheel lugs to keep aftermarket tires from rubbing. Subarus and Hondas have more limited support due to their rear transaxle configuration and difficulty of installing a rear bumper on the Subaru due to rear engine bonnet. More support seems to be coming out for these models.

    Best employee vehicle.: The KISS principle applies here (keep it simple, stupid). If you will have employees driving these trucks try to forgo many of the options like A/C, 5-speed trannys and especially axle lockers and maybe even Hi/Lo range selectors. The more things they have to fiddle with the more likely they are to break something. These things also require more knowledge for the operator to understand these systems. And A/C's just put stress on the motors while somebody leaves the truck idling to keep the cab cool while they do something outside the vehicle (heck, it's not theirs, right?).
    My vote is for mid 90's Mitsubishis, Suzuki 4-speeds or Subarus or Daihatsu 4-speeds, non-Climbers. I leave out Hondas because they are too tight.

    Best Owner/Boss Vehicle: Since it's yours, go for it. Either a late model with A/C and/or power steering. Install a $79 Sony CD player from Pep Boys and 6.5" door speakers (4x5's in Subarus). 5 speeds are nice as are electronic shift on the fly 4WD. A late 90's Suzuki with A/C and low miles for off-roading or a 2000+ year truck with bells and whistles if clearance is not an issue. Make unimportant (but if you're small in stature a Honda is awesome too).

    If only running around comfortably... Subaru / Honda
    If Hard-Core offroading ... Suzuki / Daihatsu
    Nice Balance ... Mitsubishi

    Then again these could be mixed around a bit without effecting the outcome too much.

    Drum roll. If I could only have one.... Let me see. Can't do it. No matter the make/model you should be fully satisfied in what minitrucks are all about.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2007
    Silverrubi likes this.
  8. lotus4s

    lotus4s New Member

    Nice write-up, thanks for the great info!
    Silverrubi likes this.
  9. jliltd

    jliltd Member

    As an update we have not had any trouble whatsoever with our stock work mini trucks. Problems we've had have been attributable to ourselves (modding, wrong air cleaner, etc...). I still have a 500 Kawasaki Mule and Bobcat 550 UTV on the farms but our guys prefer the minis. I have two foremen and each has been issued a Mitsubishi minicab and they have been instructed not to use their full-size pickups unless they have to go to town for parts or have to tow a load. I gave our handyman a Mitsubishi minicab with utility bed (see photo below). He keeps all his tools in the lockable boxes. One of the things that got me into mini trucks in the first place was the heartburn that hit every time an employee would cold-start a diesel 3/4 pickup to drive a 1/2 mile to get a hammer from the barn. That one pickup costs more than a container of 7 minis. So now they zip around performing their duties with higher efficiency and better maneuverability. The wife commandeered a 2001 Mitsubishi with power steering and air conditioning for her ride. My dad prefers a zippy 1990 Suzuki. My brother (big guy) uses a smooth Subaru and I alternate between a 1994 Suzuki, a different '01 Mitsu and a 1989 2WD minicab hightop (US style 3speed w/governor). I also have our summer irrigators use a mini as it's a perfect mission profile.


    Silverrubi likes this.
  10. jimhammer1

    jimhammer1 Member

    Thank you for the keen observations from experienced users of these great little trucks. Sharing your trials and errors should save time and money for other new owners. Were I to purchase another mini, I would want to receive it entirely stock without any cosmetic "fixes" such as touch up painting. I would then make any selection of modifications including tires, wheels, lifts, bumpers, etc., based on how I intended to use it. I would pretty much ignore the odometer and rely on a thorough inspection. I now have one truck with three different lifts, three sets of wheels and three different sets of tires. Of all the vehicles I've owned, I may be enjoying my Suzuki the most. It's fun to work on, fun to drive and has great utility.
    Silverrubi likes this.
  11. JRinTX

    JRinTX Moderator


    I agree with you 100%. A stock truck is the best way to buy one. Make your own modifications to suit your needs.

    I think you have me beat on lifts and tires! I have built 3 lifts, a 3", a 4" and a 5" for my 92 Suzuki. I only have 1 set of wheels, but 2 sets of tires. Like you said, this truck is one of the best toys I have had. :D

    And Jliltd, I always look forward to your posts....and love the pictures!!
    Silverrubi likes this.
  12. Acerguy

    Acerguy Moderator Staff Member

    That goes for me as well! Love hearing about them workin' trucks. :D
  13. Moike

    Moike New Member

    As I am soon to become a mini truck owner this article was more than useful. Many thanks for taking the time to write such an informing thread.
  14. kydawg

    kydawg New Member

    I would also like to thank jiltd for this post. im hoping to get a mini truck mysef this topic was very informative. thanks for taking the time to post this . huge thanks very useful info . kydawg .
  15. Birdman

    Birdman New Member

    Great write up THANKS - I too am learning about these trucks and look forward to buying one as soon as I learn more. I have a question - jliltd's write up says the Daihatsu Climber has front and rear diff lock how can you tell if the truck has this feature (what to look for on truck) and how does it work.

    It seems you must first decide what your needs are and then decide on the truck that will best fit your need

    I would be mostly trail riding with some mud thrown in (a least on diff lock wanted) - I really like the 25x8rx12 Maxxis Bighorn tire - 6ply wears great and great traction. Any suggestion on what truck and how to fit these tires or maybe some different tires I can look into that would fit the truck easier

    Again great info and keep posting the knowledge you guys have aquired dealing with these trucks so the rest of us "new kids" can make informed choices and spread the word about these great trucks

  16. miniMOG

    miniMOG Member

    Thanks for the great info-

    To ad my 2 cents- We had problems back in the early days with too much lift and too tall a tire. I have settled down with just installing 2" lifts in the front, no rear lift, and 23" tires. This seems to be the most trouble free set up.
    I like to use the Carlisle All trails also. We use them in the sand quite a bit- when we take them to Dumont Dunes or Glamis sand dunes, I will air them down to as low as 4 psi! They work great, and havent busted one off a bead yet! When I put them on stock wheels (yes- it can be done) sometimes they have to be spaced out a bit (we just use washers) so they wont rub the coil spring.
  17. slimbad

    slimbad Member

    miniMOG, I have a 94 mitsu with Dunlop AT25x8x12 on front and AT25x10x12 on rear. I have occasional rubs on hard turns/bumps. I've been leaning towards a slight lift 1-1/2 or 2". But only on the front. The truck has a slight front end down attitude now and the truck is a dumpbed. I really don't want the back end any higher. looks like a 2" in front will actually level it out. Do you sell or know where i can get just the front 2" lift? Thanks.........slim
    Silverrubi likes this.
  18. 4Wheelin

    4Wheelin Member

    Wow, what an education I just got! Now I have an even more keen idea as to what model I want. I definately want the stock version and do all of the mods myself. I am leaning toward the Mitsubishi. Thanks for an awesome article! Now all I have do is find a dealer nearby as I sold my ATV last night.
  19. miniMOG

    miniMOG Member

    Slim- Check with the sponsor dealers on the forum here--- I would think they could sell you just the front spacers. If you have no luck, contact me again, and I will help you look.
  20. xroadsimport

    xroadsimport Member


    We will sell you the front spacers. They are half the cost of the regular lift. To get 25" tires to clear you may need the 3" spacers though.
  21. IndianaJason

    IndianaJason Member


    You mentioned the Climber having both front and rear lockers, correct?

    Are these true lockers, I'm guessing the rear is, but is the front a true locker? (i.e. "posi-trak", - both tires turn no matter what)...

    Somehow I missed this possibly valuable piece of info, both before and after purchasing my suzuki with no locker(s)....

    In the type of use my truck gets/would get back in the woods, uneven ground, mud on one side dry on the other, creek banks, etc.... A locker would make almost a world of difference.....

    When I purchased mine I was misinformed that "axle lock" meant I had a locker in the front, which, I wanted one with diff. lock, but figured hey, If I got one axle locked whether front or rear, Ive got 3 tires turning no matter what.... sadly this is not the case...which results in several "back up and try it again attempts" at a different angle to get some traction in those certain spots.....

    Anyways, let me know exactly how that works on those climbers when you get a chance..... My suzuki is sold, as soon as I get the clutch fixed (which apparently went out while the truck was parked????..go figure?)... so I will be looking for a replacement....and it has to have a dump bed.

    So, next question, are Climbers available with factory dump beds...??

    Thanks for your post you did here and hopefully some answers to my questions...at your convenience.

  22. jliltd

    jliltd Member

    That's a good question. The Daihatsu "Climber" model has front and rear axle lock (SU DIFF LOCK switch). I don't know what the differences are between it and the system that Suzuki uses. I know it makes a heck of a difference in the boonies compared to the Suzuki. Both of our Climbers were 1991 models. I know Daihatsu tends to have more specially-configured trucks like dumps, scissor lifts and the like so the possibility of finding one with a dump ought to be pretty good. I've got a cousin who has one of the Climbers for sale but it isn't a dump model or a show truck.

    See post #29 below.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2008
  23. IndianaJason

    IndianaJason Member

    Hey thanks for the reply....

    So is the front "lock" a true locker... both front tires turn no matter what restriction they have on them..i.e. "posi-trak" ..??

  24. ky hillbilly

    ky hillbilly Member

    i have a 89 climber it has a dif lock button. it only locks the rear axle the front is open like all the rest of the trucks i have seen.....
  25. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    Very nice write up! Well done. Many people ask us about which is the best truck to buy, and I'm going to point them to this thread.

    As for me, Subaru is good. I like them because I drive it on roads, and we now use it for the company. We had a Daihatsu Jumbo, and it was fine too, especially for my large frame (6foot2). But, I can just fit comfortably in the Subaru with automatic transmission. I may have mentioned that we bought a Subaru Super Charged automatic with a/c. The real Holy Grail.

    Anyways, that's my opinion. For large people, the Daihatsu Jumbo or Subaru. Anyone over 6foot 2, I'd say Jumbo.
  26. Keiman

    Keiman New Member

    Good day guys.
    I live in Japan and export this little work horses.
    And let me tell you, I found more details information on this
    site than what I get from dealers around.
    Thank you much
  27. jliltd

    jliltd Member

    Thanks for the additional input, guys. I don't mind my impressions post being quoted, with credit, or linked to. Don't plagiarize like the guy from Arizona who cut and pasted my exact posting in an off-road forum as if they were his own words (he knows who he is). Just a matter of principle.
  28. jliltd

    jliltd Member

    On the dashboard to the right of the steering wheel there is a rocker switch labeled "SU DIFF LOCK" which stands for "super differential lock". It's a term Daihatsu uses to describe locking front and rear (super) verses locking only one (normal). I've only seen the "SU Diff" switch in Climber models so I assumed that's what "Climber" implied. We've had the same year model Hijet without the Climber decal and it didn't have this switch. My assumption about the "Climber" moniker could be wrong, but the existence of the SUP DIFF LOCK switch should be the dead giveaway that the truck has front/rear lockers.
    Redgap likes this.
  29. ace cutter

    ace cutter Member

    bulldog offroad makes a good lift ,lowers all the runnung gear,makes extensions with adjustment for the bottom of the front struts, this lets you adjust caster and camber
  30. jliltd

    jliltd Member

    Here's a photo of a 1994 Suzuki helping with maintenance. The larger service truck is an Isuzu NPR type and it's resemblance to the Suzuki is striking.

    I have another photo of a 1990 Suzuki running a hay inverter in the field I'll try to post when I find it.



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